As a former Bible Teacher and Youth Pastor, I’ve witnessed students change for the good and bad. One of the most memorable occurred during a Confirmation Retreat for 8th Graders. One of the girls who attended had a reputation for being cruel and mean. At some point, whether it was one of the ice-breakers, small groups discussions or something I said during this weekend, a spiritual transformation began in this girl’s life.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, See here, the Lord has restrained me from bearing [children]. I am asking you to have intercourse with my maid; it may be that I can obtain children by her. And Abram listened to and heeded what Sarai said. 3 So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her Egyptian maid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his [secondary] wife. 4 And he had intercourse with Hagar, and she became pregnant; and when she saw that she was with child, she looked with contempt upon her mistress and despised her, Genesis 16:1-4.
Unfortunately, most transformations occur gradually, over an extended period of time. Such was the case for Sarai, who struggled with self-esteem as an adult due to her inability to have a baby with her husband Abram. The label of being barren ate away at her soul, trying to force the issue with Hagar, her maidservant who she gave to Abram as a secondary wife. However, after Hagar got pregnant this only made Sarai more bitter and envious.
And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her, Genesis 17:15-16.
Moments after God gave Abram the new name Abraham, the same thing happens to Sarai in the passage above. Recognizing the broken and crushed spirit of Abraham’s wife, Psalm 34:18, God’s new name Sarah means princess. Using the power of words like the book You Are What You Say, God speaks to Sarah’s future and not her past. The apostle Paul writes about this important principle in Philippians 3:12-14. This is the mentality which led to the transformation of a barren woman into a princess and the mother of Israel.
by Jay Mankus